By Dr. Timothy Pigg
Pastor, Fellowship Church, Immokalee, Fla.
Nov. 17, 2023
We all know of events that have the effect of changing us. One such event occurred on the first day of my employment at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS). I was pursuing a Master of Divinity degree when I began working as the secretary to Dr. Waylan Owens. Dr. Owens, at that time, was the dean of the School of Church and Family Ministries–now the School of Education; he now pastors in Farmersville, Texas. Along with working at SWBTS, I was also the student pastor of a church south of Fort Worth in the town of Cleburne. On my first day at SWBTS, I learned the lesson that sufficiency of Scripture is more than believing in inerrancy, but certainly not less.
I will never forget the four to five-hour conversation that Dr. Owens and I had on my first day as his secretary. The conversation was sparked by a comment that I had made to him about the methodology I would use to gather students to church on Wednesday night. While I do not remember exactly the statement, I said something like, “I would do anything to attract students to church so that they can hear the gospel.” As soon as those words left my mouth, Dr. Owens had a retort that altered my ministry. He asked, “What biblical evidence do you have for doing anything to attract students to church so that they can hear the gospel?” His question pierced through my heart and mind as he exposed my pragmatism and the lack of understanding I had for the sufficiency of Scripture.
The sufficiency of Scripture is not just the inerrancy of Scripture debate repackaged for a new generation. Instead, when we talk about the sufficiency of Scripture, we are talking about the practice of inerrancy in the context of our life. Essentially, the line of thinking goes…1) God is the author of Scripture, therefore His Word is authoritative and inerrant. 2) If His word is authoritative and inerrant, then it must be sufficient for the matters which pertain to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Scripture is sufficient to instruct us on what to do and how to do it in a manner that is pleasing to God.
As Christians, we are not free to live our lives in the manner we see fit. As churches, we are not free to cooperate through whatever means we deem efficient or effective. As pastors, we are not free to start ministries, preach sermons, or lead God’s people to goals or actions that merely suit our thoughts and desires. Instead, God has provided us with His self-revelation to be a sufficient guide for knowing what His good and perfect will is for our lives. It does not matter if you are a Christian living out the mercies of God in your everyday life, a church cooperating in a convention, or a pastor leading a congregation, all of us are responsible for the obedience of God’s Word (John 15:10).
The members of Fellowship Church, where God graciously allows me to serve His people, have a desire to know God and make Him known through text-driven ministries. We want Scripture to guide every aspect of our lives. We affirm not only the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, but we also affirm that Scripture is sufficient to provide us all that we need to do the work of ministry. It is because of our conviction that Scripture is sufficient that we have opened up the doors and pulled back the curtain for you to access the resources that we use. Each resource is doctrinally faithful and distinctly Baptist (www.textdriven.org).
We have to do more than just affirm that the Bible is authoritative and inerrant. We have to begin to seek to do God’s work God’s way according to God’s Word. When we begin to follow Scripture in all matters, then we will be adhering to the sufficiency of Scripture. Christians following the sufficiency of Scripture are text-driven Christians. Churches following the sufficiency of Scripture are text-driven churches. Pastors following the sufficiency of Scripture are text-driven pastors. The sufficiency of Scripture is more than inerrancy, but certainly not less.